Millennial lawyers are getting sick of their jobs even faster than previous generations

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32% of UK lawyer job seekers are applying for non-legal roles — up from 24% in 2007, finds study


The mismatch between student perceptions of being a lawyer and the sometimes tough reality has been highlighted in a survey that shows members of the legal profession heading for the exit door in rising numbers.

According to analysis of job searches by 1,486 lawyer applicants on job sites Reed and Total Jobs, 32% of lawyers who earn over £50,000 are applying for non-legal roles that would see them leave the profession. The sample was restricted to lawyers in the newly qualified to 10 years post-qualification bracket.

A similar survey conducted jointly in 2007 by YouGov and The Lawyer found that 24% of lawyers would like a change of career.

The new study, conducted by career change consultants Life Productions, found that the disillusioned lawyers were applying in greatest numbers to other City roles in banking, insurance and finance (13%), followed by IT and internet business roles (7%) and jobs in the construction industry (6%).

Life Productions‘ founder, Martin Underwood — a former junior criminal barrister who now advises unhappy corporate law associates how to escape their jobs — billed the results as emblematic of a “talent retention crisis for Big Law [that] is getting even worse as the industry deals with millennials, a generation of professionals who demand work-life balance and a job that is aligned to their values.”

Underwood, who used to practise from London set 9 Bedford Row, went on:

Working conditions for lawyers at larger firms haven’t changed significantly in eight years. A large proportion of well-paid associates and senior associates continue to resent the lifestyle they are expected to adopt. For them, the high salary is simply not enough to justify the grinding hours, the stress and the lack of control over the volume and nature of work.

The study comes as a host of City law firms move to increase junior solicitor pay and implement flexible working initiatives — developments which suggest the recovering economy is boosting associates’ employment options and bargaining power.



Not sure why we need a criminal barrister to tell us this



This is odd, because The Lawyer did a comprehensive survey recently – their Salary survey 2015 which you can download off their website. That says that only 6.1% of lawyers want their next job to be outside of law. 9.1% said ‘don’t mind’ and 13.1% said ‘not sure’. Why the disparity? The survey size was larger in The Lawyer’s report, but it could, I suppose, be the different methodology – self reporting in The Lawyer against what people are actually doing in this study.

It could also be that the vast majority of lawyers looking for new jobs don’t use websites – they get headhunted or approach a recruitment consultant. So their self-reporting may well be much more accurate. In contrast, lawyers looking to leave the profession won’t necessarily get headhunted or know the relevant consultants and so will be more likely to go online to look for a new job.

Basically, I don’t think that the headline is a particularly good one. This report doesn’t tell us much more than that quite a lot of lawyers using job sites are applying for non-legal positions. Not that floods of millennials are deserting the profession.


Not Amused

“That says that only 6.1% of lawyers want their next job to be outside of law. 9.1% said ‘don’t mind’ and 13.1% said ‘not sure’. Why the disparity?”

I think that sample group was of all lawyers. Whereas this sample group is only of lawyers looking for new jobs already. It also doesn’t necessarily mean those lawyers are committed to leaving the law or that they aren’t looking for legal jobs as well.

There have always been a certain number of dissatisfied lawyers. There always will be. If Underwood can actually help them leave the law then he will have on his hands a very successful business model.

My suspicion is that leaving the law is much less easy than people think – but that is based on anecdotal evidence. What I would want to see is a successful business whose model is actively helping people leave – there are (and were at undergraduate level) an awful lot of prima donna lawyers who moan and gripe, but don’t actually really want to change. I think a business which just panders to those egos (by offering courses but not actually getting anyone a new job) would be less attractive – but let’s see what Underwood can achieve. Business is not evil, this one might actually do some good.



It’s the return of magic circle expert Martin Underwood


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Here in the Philippines, the big law firms don’t actually pay enough to keep their associates motivated to stay. Millenials are just more money-aware now, such that they have financial goals and need a job that can be rewarding not just professionally, but financially as well. After spending money and time in law school, it is just unrealistic for law firms to expect their associates to stay, while being paid peanuts in return for a heavy workload.


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